Justice Markandey Katju-
By (Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was deposed in April 2022, and later arrested, and has been confined since early August in a tiny, dingy cell in jail with few amenities.
About 180 criminal cases have been foisted against him, so that if he is acquitted in one, he will be rearrested in another, the intention being not to let him come out of jail alive throughout his remaining life.
And what are his crimes? Ostensibly it is alleged that he took Toshakhana gifts without paying fully for them, that he was involved in a cypher crime, etc.
But his real ‘crimes’, for which he is being punished, are very different. It is a long list.
- After the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in 2001, US President Bush decided to invade Afghanistan, and declared ” Those who are not with us, are against us.”
At that time Gen Musharraf was the ruler of Pakistan ( having staged a military coup in 1999 ), and to save his own skin he supported the US invasion, though Pakistan had friendly relations with Afghanistan, and the Afghans had never done any harm to Pakistan.
Imran Khan strongly opposed Pakistan’s support to the US invasion of Afghanistan, saying this was not our war, and that Pakistan paid a very heavy price for it. 70,000 Pakistanis were killed in this war, and Pakistan’s fragile economy suffered a loss of a staggering 150 billion dollars.
He said Pakistan’s decision to support US invasion of Afghanistan was not made in public interest but for dollars.
- Imran Khan has said Pakistan will never again be a US partner in a war. He denounced the ‘idiocy’ of becoming a front-line state in US-led wars.
- He has strongly opposed setting up US military bases in Pakistan.
- While he was Prime Minister he went to Russia to get a deal on import of oil, when the war against Ukraine was going on. This naturally angered the Americans, who were strongly supporting Ukraine.
- He has opposed taking US aid.
- Imran Khan alleged there was a US conspiracy which ousted him in April 2022.
All this has antagonised the US Govt, and the Pakistan army which follows instructions from the former, has accordingly incarcerated Imran Khan on various trumped-up charges.
It may be mentioned that the real ruler in Pakistan is its army, but the senior Pakistan army officers are all beholden to the USA and do its bidding. Apart from direct financial gratification which they might be getting secretly, their children are having high-paying jobs in the World Bank, IMF or some multinational corporation, or given admissions with full scholarship in Ivy League Colleges like Harvard or Yale.
Antagonizing the USA is the real ‘crime’ of Imran Khan, for which he is paying the price confined in Adiala jail in wretched conditions, and time alone will tell whether a ZA Bhutto will be done to him.